Decomposers Lesson for Kids: Definition & Examples

Instructor: Patrick Zedrow

Patrick has taught intermediate science, language arts, and technology. He has a master's degree in educational technology.

Imagine entering a restaurant, ordering a meal, and the waiter brings out a bag of garbage for you. Gross, right? But for a decomposer, that's a very tasty meal. This lesson focuses on decomposers' way of life, examples of them, and how they help the environment.

What is a Decomposer?

Decomposers are small creatures in our environment that are like living garbage disposals. Do they eat plants? Yep. Insects? Yep. Large animals? Yep. They eat everything! They sound pretty powerful, but they are usually very small and live on or in the ground. When something dies, the decomposers take over from there. They eat dead remains and are even known as nature's cleaners.

If decomposers did not do their job, the ground would be covered in garbage, dead things, and disgusting junk. How do such small creatures eat so much? It does take some time, but there are many more out there than you might realize to do some of the tough jobs. You should be thankful that decomposers are so good at what they do!

Decomposers eat everything!

What Are Some Examples of Decomposers?

There are decomposers everywhere. You can find them in forests, prairies, swamps, the ocean, rivers, and many other environments. One familiar decomposer is an earthworm. You may see earthworms in the soil, especially near plants, gardens, and other moist areas.

Other types of decomposers include some insects. Have you ever noticed that when you are being pestered by flies, you are usually near animals, garbage, or dirty areas? These insects love waste, dead things, and dirty stuff! Another living thing you might find near animal waste is a mushroom. A mushroom is a type of fungus; it actually lives and grows directly on its food. How convenient!

Most decomposers are actually too small to see. Many of them are called bacteria. Bacteria are very tiny living things that can live anywhere. Because they are so small, bacteria can get into very hard-to-reach places, including our bodies, which can sometimes lead to sickness. This is one reason why it is important to practice caution when you are near disposed waste and garbage. Ever see a rotten piece of fruit? This is usually caused by bacteria getting inside it over the course of a week or two.

There are many types of decomposers.
decomposers types

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